Scientists accidentally create plastic-eating mutant enzyme

Scientists accidentally create plastic-eating mutant enzyme

But in a new twist, British and American scientists have announced that while studying this bacteria, they accidentally created a mutant enzyme that's even more efficient at breaking down plastic bottles.

The urgency of this work is as striking as the images pulled from recent headlines: 8 million metric tons of plastic waste, including PET bottles, enter the oceans each year, creating huge man-made islands of garbage.

The worldwide team, led by Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth, UK, tested the evolutionary process of the enzyme, inadvertently discovering that they had improved the capabilities of the enzyme in breaking down PET bottles.

McGeehan's team, including researchers at the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), stumbled onto their mutant tweak while investigating the crystal structure of PETase - the enzyme that helps the Japanese microbe, Ideonella sakaiensis, break down PET plastics (aka polyethylene terephthalate).

That means future engineered versions should work even better at munching through plastic, and may be able to help us recycle other kinds of materials too.

The researchers worked with scientists at Diamond Light Source (DLS) in the United Kingdom, deploying a synchrotron that uses intense beams of X-rays 10 billion times brighter than the sun to act as a microscope powerful enough to see individual atoms.

In addition to digesting PET, the new enzyme was also capable of degrading polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF), a bio-based form of plastic being hailed as a replacement for glass beer bottles.

"These enzymes are not abundantly present in nature, so you would need to produce the enzyme first, then add it to the PET plastic to degrade it", Wim Soetaert, head of the Industrial Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghent, pointed out. Although it is said to be recyclable, discarded PET can last for centuries before it degrades.

Moscow court bans Telegram messaging app
In response, Telegram's lawyers said that they would file an appeal at the Moscow City Court after a careful study of the ruling. The Virgin Islands-registered company has over 9.5 million users in Russian Federation , according to researcher Mediascope.

The structure of the enzyme looked very similar to one evolved by many bacteria to break down cutin, a natural polymer used as a protective coating by plants.

Scientists at the University of Portsmouth and the US Energy DepartmentĀ“s National Renewable Energy Laboratory chose to focus on a naturally occurring bacterium discovered in Japan a few years ago.

Its findings were published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Researchers reported in 2016 that they had found the strain living in sediments at a bottle recycling site in the port city of Sakai.

"Enzymes are non-toxic, biodegradable and can be produced in large amounts by microorganisms", he said.

Increasing the volume of plastic that is recycled could significantly cut the amount that finds its way into the sea, which now stands at about a truck load every single minute worldwide.

"What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock", said lead researcher John McGeehan, a professor at the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

Related Articles

  • House Conservatives Make a Play for Influence in Race to Succeed Ryan

    House Conservatives Make a Play for Influence in Race to Succeed Ryan

    A few months back, [after attending] church, I went to Dunkin Donuts with my sister and we ran into Speaker Ryan there. House of Representatives, has rendered very valuable service to his fellow Americans during his 20 years in Congress.
    Flyers vs. Penguins 2018

    Flyers vs. Penguins 2018

    The Tampa Bay Lightning looked poised to be the Stanley Cup champions at midseason, though they cooled in the second half. This is my favorite round of the playoffs because all the teams involved will be on my television at some point.
    CDC reports E.Coli infections linked to lettuce distributed from Yuma

    CDC reports E.Coli infections linked to lettuce distributed from Yuma

    Investigators are trying to determine the source of chopped romaine lettuce supplied to restaurant locations where ill people ate. So far, the CDC reports 17 people have been affected in Washington, Idaho , Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey , and CT .
  • Bryce Harper breaks bat on 406-ft home run

    Bryce Harper breaks bat on 406-ft home run

    Breaking your bat in two though, is extremely rare, and something that might have happened just once before . Since the start of last season he has hit.377 (23-of-61) with six homers and 13 RBIs against them.
    Joel Embiid clears concussion protocol, will miss Game 2 vs. Heat

    Joel Embiid clears concussion protocol, will miss Game 2 vs. Heat

    Embiid has been ruled out for Monday's Game 2 as he continues to recover from surgery to fix an orbital bone fracture. Embiid suffered a broken orbital bone and concussion in a collision with teammate Markelle Fultz on March 28.
    Will Ferrell released from hospital; SUV flipped on the freeway

    Will Ferrell released from hospital; SUV flipped on the freeway

    Ferrell and Eichner talked about the upcoming primary in CA-49, and the actor appeared as Ron Burgundy from Anchorman . Witnesses told TMZ that the SUV was side-swiped by another vehicle .
  • No guarantees for Anthony Martial

    No guarantees for Anthony Martial

    If I was you I would go ask why Lukaku plays every match, why Matic plays every match. 'Only 11 can start. Both Rashford and Martial will hope to start for Mourinho in the match.
    Former First Lady Barbara Bush's health is failing

    Former First Lady Barbara Bush's health is failing

    The source said she is being cared for at her home in Houston and has decided she does not want to go back into the hospital. Mr Bush, who served as U.S. president from 1989-93, suffers from a form of Parkinson's disease and uses a wheelchair.
    Britain Joins France And US In Air Strikes In Syria

    Britain Joins France And US In Air Strikes In Syria

    Russia's ambassador to the United States responded by saying the attack on its ally "will not be left without consequences". The United States struck the base with 58 missiles in response to the chemical attack that killed more than 80 people.
  • Daryl Worley likely to get cut by the Philadelphia Eagles

    Daryl Worley likely to get cut by the Philadelphia Eagles

    A third-round pick of the Panthers in 2016, Worley was acquired last month in a trade that sent Torrey Smith to Carolina. While in college at West Virginia, Worley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault after a 2014 incident at a nightclub.

    Giroud double keeps Chelsea in Champions League hunt

    It was hard for us to come back so we must be pleased by the desire we showed. It's very disappointing that the officials didn't see it.
    IPL 2018 7th Match: Sunrisers defeat Indians in last-ball thriller

    IPL 2018 7th Match: Sunrisers defeat Indians in last-ball thriller

    The onslaught on the spin duo allowed DD to take a safer route against Jasprit Bumrah, Mustafizur Rahman and Krunal Pandya. However, Rahman bowled a hat-trick of dot balls to bring down the equation to one required of the last ball.